The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the controversial National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 which would replace the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 even as scores of resident doctors of many government hospitals withdrew all services including emergency services in protest against the Bill.

The National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, 29 July.

On July 23, a large number of doctors and MBBS students of many hospitals of Delhi-NCR had staged a protest outside AIIMS against the NMC Bill, describing it as “anti-poor, anti-people” and “against the democratic structure of India”. The protesting doctors had demanded major changes in the Bill.

NMC Bill reportedly proposes to regulate the fees and other charges of up to 50 per cent of the total seats in private medical colleges and deemed universities. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also expressed its dissatisfaction with the provisions of the Bill.

“There are many clauses of this Bill, which are not acceptable to medicos of India. It proposes National Exit Test (NEXT) as a common final year exam of all 500 medical colleges, both public and private, including AIIMS. On the basis of final year exams, you will get postgraduate (PG) seat. A common final year exam is still fine but combining that exam with PG is unjustified. There are many students who give repeated attempts to join PG of their choice then why force them to face final year practical exams again and again. And undermining the value of 1st, 2nd and 3rd-year subjects are also not appropriate,” said Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, vice-chairperson, IMA Junior Doctor Network.

He raised serious concern over the “management quota” which would increase by more than 50 per cent. “This clause will ruin the dreams of students from lower socio-economic sections. Commercialization of medical education will increase the cost of treatment and ultimately increase household expenditure,” he charged.

The IMA had also expressed its dissatisfaction over the reported proposal of a mid-level practitioner (bridge course) in the Bill. The IMA said the NMC Bill is allowing “crosspathy” and “allows AYUSH practitioners to practise allopathy”.

“This clause deepens the divide of rich and poor, urban and rural. This clause allows second class treatment of poor rural Indian citizens…by less qualified mid-level practitioners,” the IMA charged.

Earlier on Thursday, healthcare services at government hospitals, including AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital were severely hit as resident doctors withdrew all services including emergency services in protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill.

“If the bill gets passed in the Rajya Sabha, we will intensify our protests,” said Prakash Thakur of the Residents Doctors Association at Safdarjung Hospital.

The protesting doctors have alleged that the NMC Bill will only give a boost to quacks. They alleged that Section 32 of the proposed NMC Bill will intensify quackery by rural medical practitioners, private medical practitioners and others.

IMA President Santanu Sen said the “government will have blood on its hands” if Section 32 of the NMC Bill 2019 was not removed.